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Georgetown's Clark back at Verizon Center

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Georgetown's Clark back at Verizon Center

The Verizon Center setting, a rather familiar one for Georgetown guard Jason Clark. His primary sparring partner - Syracuse's Scoop Jardine - also a blast from the recent past.
Yet just about everything else on Tuesday afternoon reminded the NBA hopeful how times are a changing. Like his fellow graduation seniors, Clark hitting the streets or in this case, the hardwood looking for a job.The combo guard with go-go gadget arms and a perimeter touch joined five other draft prospects including Kentucky's Darius Miller and Florida State's Bernard James on the Wizards practice court for a pre-draft workout. Its kind of weird coming in this arena and not having on a Georgetown jersey, Clark said. Its weird, but Im willing to work hard to try to play here again.Including the Wizards a team in need of additional backcourt depth - Clark has worked out for three teams including the Heat and Spurs. More interested squads to come, starting with the Bulls on Friday, heading up to the June 28 draft.

These workouts carry weight as teams have the opportunity to size up a prospects skills, personality and well, size. Unlike his invited teammates Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson, Clark did not have a similar opportunity at last week's cattle call also known as the NBA combine.Im not going to say its all politics, Clark said. But theres a lot of things that go into getting invited to the combine. Im not worried about that I didnt get into the combine. Im just going to work my tail off to try to get drafted.The 6-foot-2 Clark and fellow senior Jardine were the only two small guards on hand for this workout session. They needed no introductions.We played against each other for four years, Jardine said. Today was just like I was on the road playing against Georgetown on their own court, hitting big shots and talking to their fans.Clark said, We were just talking about the games that we played against each other, how exciting they were. He always brags about they beat us more.Indeed Georgetown lost 5 of 8 games to its biggest rival over the past four years, with two games going to overtime, including last seasons heart-breaker in Syracuse. That was then. A new day in Clark playing career has dawned. The senior leader scored topped the Hoyas in scoring last season, but he's prepared for a different role on the next level."Playing defense, making hustle plays, knocking down open shots. I know my role is not going to be coming in and score, I know that," Clark said. "Some guys don't know that, but I know my role is going to be come in and compete. There is nobody that can out work me."With the opportunity comes stress and pressure, but Clark is savoring every moment."This is a blessing. Even if I don't get drafted, don't make a team, not everybody gets a chance to do this, the Arlington native said.Just do not infer thatstatementmeanshe's just happyto try out for the NBA. Jason Clark believes he belongs."I know I can make somebody's team," Clark said. Notes...The Wizards confirmed Kansas power forward and D.C. native Thomas Robinsonwill workout for the team on Wednesday, along with forwards Al'Lonzo Coleman (Presbyterian) and Kevin Thompson (Morgan State)...James, a 27-year old center from Florida State, said he received workout pointers from former college teammate and Wizards forward Chris Singleton, The 6-foot-10 James isprojected into the middle of the second round according to the website Draft Express. The Wizards own two second-round picks,number 32 and 46overall...Duke's athletic forward Miles Plumlee and Iowa swingman Matt Gatens also worked out. Plumlee is also a projected second-round selectio

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NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

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USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Southeast Division...

Washington Wizards, B+

2017-18 finish: 43-39, 1st round of playoffs
In: C Dwight Howard, G Austin Rivers, G Troy Brown, Jr., F Jeff Green, C Thomas Bryant
Out: C Marcin Gortat, F Mike Scott, G Ty Lawson, G Tim Frazier, G Ramon Sessions, F Chris McCullough

Given the circumstances of their salary cap situation, the Wizards did quite well for themselves this summer. They shook things up by trading Gortat and actually got something solid back for him in Rivers. They then filled Gortat's spot with an eight-time All-Star in Howard and did so at a bargain price, the taxpayer mid-level exception. They also added Green at a nice price and Brown, who acquitted himself nicely in the Summer League. Whether the Wizards made a major leap forward is debatable, but the potential is there for them to re-install themselves as contenders in the East. The possibility things go wrong is also there, but all in all, a strong summer for the Wizards.

Atlanta Hawks, B

2017-18 finish: 24-58, missed playoffs
In: G Jeremy Lin, C Alex Len, G Trae Young, G Vince Carter, G Kevin Huerter, F Justin Anderson, F Omari Spellman
Out: G Dennis Schroeder, C Mike Muscala, C Dewayne Dedmon, G Malcolm Delaney, G Isaiah Tayor

The Hawks did a nice job with the draft by picking up an extra first round pick just to move back two spots (from third to fifth) in their trade with the Mavericks. They added Young with the fifth pick and then got Huerter later on at No. 18. The Len signing at two years and $8.5 million looks like a bargain and they added a nice mix of veteran free agents and young players to develop. It will probably be a few years before the Hawks are back in the playoffs, but they seemed to take a step forward this summer.

Miami Heat, D

2017-18 finish: 44-38, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Duncan Robinson
Out: G Dwyane Wade, G Wayne Ellington, F Luke Babbitt

The Heat had one of the least impactful summers of any team in the NBA. The biggest addition they have so far, and this is true, is Robinson. They didn't make any draft picks and struck out in free agency. What they did do is let go of Wade, Ellington and others. The only way the Heat improve year-over-year is if their young guys like Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow take a big step forward. 

Charlotte Hornets, C+

2017-18 finish: 36-46, missed playoffs
In: C Bismack Biyombo, F Miles Bridges, G Devonte' Graham
Out: C Dwight Howard, G Michael Carter-Williams, G Treveon Graham

New Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak quickly turned the franchise into a different direction this offseason by trading Howard to the Nets. They then added Biyombo in a deal with the Magic and acquired Bridges through the draft. There isn't a lot to love or hate about the Hornets' offseason, so they fall in the middle of the grading scale. The real question now is what they do with Kemba Walker, who has just one year left on his contract.

Orlando Magic, B+

2017-18 finish: 25-57, missed playoffs
In: C Mohamed Bamba, C Timofey Mozgov, F Justin Jackson, F Jarell Martin, G Jerian Grant
Out: G Mario Hezonja, C Marreese Speights, G Arron Aflalo

The Magic had a strong summer. The re-signed forward Aaron Gordon, a rising young player, and drafted Bamba, who has the tools to become an All-Star and a dominant defensive force. They had some questionable moves, like trading for Mozgov, but the future looks a lot brighter for the Magic than it did just a few months ago.

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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

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Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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